IAVA 9th Annual Heroes Gala Celebrates Post-9/11 Veterans

Last week on November 12, 2015, more than 650 post-9/11 veterans, families and civilian supporters of IAVA joined emcee Willie Geist, special guest Stephen Colbert and distinguished guests Army veteran Daniel Rodriguez, Polaris CEO Scott Wine and VA Secretary Bob McDonald to celebrate the more than 2.8 million veterans that served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Take a look at highlights from the inspirational night below!

The evening began with opening remarks by our CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “2015 has been a year of huge wins, and we have a lot to celebrate tonight,” Rieckhoff said.

We were then joined by special guest, longtime IAVA supporter and 2009 Veteran Leadership Honoree J.R. Martinez.

For our first award, we were honored to present CEO of Polaris Industries Scott Wine with the 2015 Civilian Leadership Award.

Polaris Industries, owner of Victory Motorcycles, has been huge supporters of IAVA, raising awareness of the issues facing our veterans in different events from Sturgis to Veterans Day in New York City. Take a glimpse of why we were so proud to honor Scott Wine.

Special guest and 2011 Civilian Leadership Honoree Stephen Colbert joined the stage for a special message and a good laugh.

Then, longtime veterans advocate and IAVA board member Wayne Smith shared a few words.

The night came to an exceptional end honoring Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient and Clemson University football star Daniel Rodriguez with the 2015 Veteran Leadership Award.

“I’ve had a quote that I’ve always know in my head and it’s ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,’” said Daniel Rodriguez. Take a look at his touching acceptance speech.

View pictures and highlights from the evening here. Save the date for the 2016 IAVA Heroes Gala, scheduled for Nov. 10, 2016. For information about sponsoring next year’s Gala, contact Kristin Fehrenbach, Director of Individual Giving, at

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